- A raft of stocks went ex-dividend and weighed on the FTSE 100 ahead of the Bank of England's interest rate meeting at midday.

Among the ex-dividend stocks were Hollywood Bowl (BOWL), The Restaurant Group (RTN) and Topps Tiles (TPT).

Weaker commodity prices also acted as a headwind on the blue-chip index as it dragged on the mining sector.

Randgold Resources (RRS) and Fresnillo (FRES) headed south by 3.8% to £71.80 and 4.5% to £16.04, respectively.

Brent crude oil was stable at $47 per barrel, while gold dropped 1.2% to $1,256 per ounce. Copper was also weaker at $5,643 per tonne. OVERSEAS MARKETS

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ticked 0.1% lower to 2,437 on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates for the second time this year thanks to a strong economy and job market.

US media reports also revealed that President Donald Trump was under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for allegedly obstruction justice.

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slumped by over 1% on Thursday as financial, property and energy stocks fell.


In corporate news, broadband provider Sky (SKY) and Virgin Media announced a strategic partnership, but this failed to move Sky's share price at 963p. The company remains in a takeover situation.

The deal would allow small and big businesses to benefit from advanced TV advertising across Virgin TV and Sky platforms.


Within the self-storage industry Safestore (SAFE) revealed its closing occupancy fell from 70.9% to 69.8% in the six months to 30 April 2017. Investors overlooked a boost in pre-tax profit and the dividend as the stock suffered a 3% drop to 440.4p.

The company behind big brands such as Imperial Leather and St Tropez, PZ Cussons (PZC) reported decent trading in an upbeat update, although the stock remained flat at 341.4p.

Engineer WS Atkins (ATK) reported a lower operating profit margin and a 13.5% fall in operating cash flow, but the stock remained resilient at £20.75.


A profit warning at DFS Furniture (DFS) wiped off a fifth of its value to 198p. The company warned that full year earnings were likely to be below market forecasts as weakness in its trading intensified.

The shocking news had a negative read across in the retailer stocks and prompted a sell-off in its rival SCS (SCS) and mid-cap curtains retailer Dunelm (DNLM) which fell by approximately 8% and 6%, respectively.

FTSE 250 member AO World (AO.), which sells big ticket items including fridges and washing machines, also fell by 3.6% to 124.3p.

On the other end of the spectrum, wireless solutions developer Starcom (STAR) sealed a three-year supply and support deal with Philippines-based Shiptek Solutions. The agreement was for the supply of Starcom's container tracking system, causing the share price to soar 41.2% to 2.1p.

Wine specialist Majestic Wine (WINE) soured 1.5% to 378.9p on a loss of £1.5m for the year to 3 April 2017.

In the pharma sector, Angle (AGL) was a clear winner following a weak share price run in 2017. Researchers said the cancer diagnostic firm's Parsortix system found a rare cell in a blood of prostate cancer patients.

Angle discovered the number of these cells in the blood was correlated with higher patient survival, marking the first time the cells were connected with cancer prognosis. The breakthrough sparked a 18% rally in the shares to 75p.

Protein bar seller Science in Sport (SIS) nudged 1% higher to 86.3p on an agreement to fuel British competitors in the run up to Tokyo 2020.

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